My fellow Americans,
Now more than ever our government needs our help. For centuries we have believed democracy to be the best form of government, without ever experiencing true democracy. Greed and corruption have infiltrated our government, and now Democrats and Republicans have become so hopelessly opposed and unwilling to work together that nothing is accomplished. Our “representatives” use their entire term to campaign for reelection instead of doing the work Americans want done. Our government is broken, but we can fix it, and we can fix it through participating in our limited democracy, ironically. There is hope for democracy – a new hope, a liberating hope, a Libertarian hope. The Libertarian Party must be America’s Party now, because a new choice is always more democratic.
Democracy, as defined by Merriam-Webster is “a : government by the people; especially : rule of the majority; b : a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections.”
Free elections are an illusion. For the majority of this country’s history, two parties have held a monopoly over campaign contributions and the vote. Either a Democrat or Republican has won every presidential election since 1852, and since 1804 the most electoral votes a third-party candidate has obtained is just 46 by George Wallace in 1968. That was the year Tricky Dick was elected the first time. Needless to say had we realized then what we have the opportunity to realize now we could have avoided putting a crook in office. But we have an opportunity to change American politics once again and bring about a more democratic democracy.
The United States political scene suffers from what Herbert Marcuse would call one-dimensional thought, which “militates against qualitative change. Thus emerges a pattern of one-dimensional thought and behavior in which ideas, aspirations and objectives that…transcend the established universe of discourse and action are either repelled or reduced to terms of this universe” (Marcuse 12). This one-dimensional thought allows for greed and corruption to flourish in our government because we, the people, have accepted it as simply a consequence of democracy.
Marcuse’s one-dimensional thought is ever-present in the Presidential Election Campaign Fund Act. “The Republican and Democratic candidates who win their parties’ nominations for President are each eligible to receive a grant to cover all the expenses of their general election campaigns. The basic $20 million grant is adjusted for inflation each Presidential election year. In 2008, the grant was $84.1 million…A third-party Presidential candidate may qualify for some public funds after the general election if he or she receives at least five percent of the popular vote.” So the Democratic and Republican candidates get $84.1 million and the third-party candidate gets squat unless they grab 5% of the vote in the previous election. The laws governing these “free” elections are keeping third parties at a disadvantage to install an incumbent, ruling order that “militates against qualitative change.” Changing these laws is not an option at this point, so we must act within the system to bring about qualitative change, which is one-dimensional in itself., but no one in Congress is going to reform campaign finance laws when they’re running for reelection. “In the political sphere…the programs of the big parties become ever more undistinguishable, even in the degree of hypocrisy and in the odor of the cliches” (Marcuse 19). The Democrats and Republicans are false opposites. They clearly have the same goal in mind – to keep the power divided amongst themselves and the money out of the hands of people looking to change the status quo. That’s why it’s important that the Libertarian Party surpass the 5% popular vote benchmark in the 2012 presidential election, or we can expect more of the same from the White House.
“As the great words of freedom and fulfillment are pronounced by campaigning leaders and politicians, on screens and radios and stages, they turn into meaningless sounds which obtain meaning only in the context of propaganda, business, discipline, and relaxation.” We’re in the whirlwind of this media now and we can already smell the stench of propaganda permeating from the camps of Democrats and Republicans, but the Libertarian Party doesn’t have the money to compete on television and radio, and unless the Libertarian Party is able to poll at 15%, they won’t be able to compete on stage either. You see, third party candidates are withheld from nationally televised debates if they don’t reach 15% on CNN’s presidential election poll. Don’t let the propaganda fool you. There’s only one party looking to bring about qualitative change despite what President Obama’s campaign slogan may be.
Marcuse warns us that “the range of choice open to the individual is not the decisive factor in determining the degree of human freedom, but what can be chosen and what is chosen.” Having another choice on the ballot does not make us more free, but having a quality choice on the ballot will if we cast a quality vote. The Libertarian Party takes the social tolerance of the Democrats and mixes it with the fiscal responsibility of the Republicans, which proves to be a strong party in an election year expecting the most independent voters in history. We have a quality choice in the Libertarian Party. Now it’s up to us to cast a quality vote. Though Marcuse again warns, “Free election of masters does not abolish the masters of the slaves.” The American government is a democratic republic, and until we change the entire order of things, a very two-dimensional thought, we’ll have to deal with our “masters” for the time being, but we can operate the machine.
“We are neither in the amphitheatre, nor on the stage, but in the panoptic machine, invested by its effects of power, which we bring to ourselves since we are part of its mechanism” (Foucault 217). Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish insists that power is everywhere and we all can wield it. And he’s right. Despite our panoptic society, we are still the fuel that drives the machine. Under the current administration, the panoptic surveillance has only increased, as President Obama signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act, which allows the US government to detain its own citizens indefinitely and without trial if they are suspected terrorists. All of this after our President said during his campaign that he’d close Guantanamo Bay. A clear example of Foucault’s power relations occurred quite recently, when only public outrage kept bills SOPA and PIPA from criminalizing file sharing and destroying the communicative, free structure of the Internet. We do have power, “against an extraordinary evil, power is mobilized; it makes itself everywhere present and visible” (Foucault 205). Internet activists used the best tool they had to defeat SOPA and PIPA – the Internet. They flooded Congress Twitter accounts with pleas to stop the bills. They shut down Wikipedia in outrage of the bills. And yes, some people hacked into bank websites and shut them down, but it was ultimately a success for the American people, though many people believe CISPA, a cyber-security bill passed by the House on Thursday, to be a way for the government to further monitor its own citizens. The oppressors always comes back with a power play of their own, but the Libertarian Party is strongly opposed to any legislation that allows our government to monitor our web practices. It’s a clear invasion of privacy and that’s why we need to keep fighting because “there is no risk…that the increase of power created by the panoptic machine may degenerate into tyranny’ the disciplinary mechanism will be democratically controlled, since it will be constantly accessible ‘to the great tribunal committee of the world’” (Foucault 207).
The actions of Internet activists are also a great demonstration of communicative action. “In modern, secular societies social order rests chiefly on the basis of communicative action (action coordinated by validity claims) and discourse, which together help establish and maintain social integrity – that is, they provide the glue that keeps society together.“ Jürgen Habermas is my kind of guy – a democratic socialist in the best sense. “Habermas argues that we can establish an ideal speech situation – a set of conditions under which democratic discussion optimally takes place – that can guide the way we set up group conversations on important community issues and decisions” (Brookfield 63). He would urge us to organize at a local level and discuss the issues of the day and arrive at a consensus that neglects no one and is not self-serving, which is difficult given Habermas believes human beings to be “essentially self-interested,” though the Internet has provided an opportunity for humanitarian efforts, as Clay Shirky makes clear in his book Cognitive Surplus. “The Internet is an opportunity machine, a way for small groups to create new opportunities, at lower cost and with less hassle than ever before, and to advertise those opportunities to the largest set of potential participants in history.” (Shirky 128-129). The Internet allows us to organize our efforts and communicate effectively, and I think Habermas is wrong to think “the electronic mass media of today is organized in such a way that it controls the loyalty of a depoliticised population” (qtd. in Brookfield 232). “For Habermas democracy is all about communication – the freest, least-restricted communication possible. In his view the greater the freedom of conversation that people enjoy, the higher the chance that true critical reason – reason employed to create a just, humane democracy – will emerge.” (Brookfield, 230). If the Internet is not the freest form of communication, I’m a little scared of what might be. I think now that Habermas knows Twitter is capable of keeping bills off the Senate floor, he may change his tune and urge us to use this “opportunity machine” to organize communicative action for liberty.
In organizing communicative action, Paulo Freire would urge “the oppressed must not, in seeking to regain their humanity…become in turn oppressors of the oppressors, but rather restorers of the humanity of both” (Freire 46). When the Libertarian Party does rise up and overcome our oppressors, it’s important to embrace those oppressors and help them to regain their humanity. We can’t simply leave the Democrats and Republicans in the dust. That would be selfish and ineffective. When the gay community finally achieves marriage equality, they aren’t going to live their lives oblivious to heterosexuals. We must help Democrats and Republicans realize their oppressive ways and install an active dialogue between the oppressed and the oppressors, and if we are to move forward, we must not fear freedom.
“The oppressed, having internalized the image of the oppressor and adopted his guidelines, are fearful of freedom. Freedom would require them to eject this image and replace it with autonomy and responsibility. Freedom is acquired by conquest, not by gift. It must be pursued constantly and responsibly. Freedom is not an ideal located outside of man, nor is it an idea which becomes myth. It is rather the indispensable condition for the quest of human completion” (Freire 48).
A heavy burden of responsibility is awaiting the Libertarian Party at the end of this election, regardless of outcome, and we must not shy away from this responsibility as the Tea Party movement has done. We must accept this responsibility and go about restoring legitimacy to our government through love, because bipartisan bickering and political pandering is how we got here in the first place. Paulo Freire, a civil rights activist himself, would be appalled by the unwillingness of both Democrats and Republicans to recognize the marriage rights of gay human beings. The Libertarian Party won’t allow Democrats and Republicans to continue ignoring the gay community. Marriage equality cannot be denied to these Americans simply because they’re not conducting a traditional, religious marriage. Marriage used to be as strong a social order as evangelical Republicans still believe it to be, but we all know marriage doesn’t mean the same thing it did 20 years ago. Marriage is a human right, a civil right, a right that shall not be denied to any human regardless of race or sexual preference, and the Libertarian Party will fight for those rights.
It’s clear the Libertarian Party has a unique opportunity to change American politics forever, but how can we bring about this communicative action? Well, by taking a page from Augusto Boal’s book we can “practice how the theater can be placed at the service of the oppressed” (121). Boal’s main objective, and this is the main objective of the Libertarian Party as well, is “to change the people – ‘spectators,’ passive beings in the theatrical phenomenon – into subjects, into actors, transformers of the dramatic action” (122). Boal’s Peru experiments provide a model for Americans looking to become more aware of other people’s hopes and “one will be able to physically ‘interpret’ characters different from oneself” (128). Only through understanding each other can we effectively govern ourselves. A thorough understanding of our fellow citizens isn’t all we’ll need to bring about change, though. They must also have a thorough understanding of us, and Boal offers an effective way to invite people to live in other people’s shoes. The medical marijuana debate is a perfect opportunity for Boal’s theatric experiments to be put to the test. Consider a hypothetical situation: a Libertarian who happens to be a medical marijuana patient in favor of legalizing marijuana meets a Republican or Democrat staunchly opposed to medical marijuana and legalization of any kind. Boal gives us a model for reshaping people’s subjectivities by allowing them to step out of their own heads and into someone else’s. The Libertarian calmly explains why she supports marijuana legalization and listens attentively to why the new friend is opposed to it. Aware of their new friend’s subjectivities, the Libertarian invites the new friend to step into her shoes. “I suffer from (cancer/post-traumatic stress syndrome/multiple sclerosis/degenerative disc disease/etc.), and I use marijuana to deal with the (pain/nausea). Without it my life is a living hell, and now my provider has been arrested by the DEA despite following the state medical marijuana laws, so I can’t even get the medication I need. Now, if you found yourself with (cancer/post-traumatic stress syndrome/multiple sclerosis/etc.) and a doctor told you this plant could help you live more comfortably, would you still support DEA raids of providers just looking to make a living?” Most folks can’t help but feel empathetic because they have actively experienced what the other person is going through. They were invited to consider their subjectivities in an alternate reality. They are no longer a spectator, but a “spectactor.”
Without action there is no theatre, and the show can’t go on without action. Boal urges us to get off our asses and act rather than watch, and the Libertarian Party urges you to do the same. We find ourselves in a participatory democracy in which the participants are unwilling to participate, whether it be due to poor choices on the ballot or simple laziness. We cannot allow this lack of participation define our democracy.
“The spectator is less than a man and it is necessary to humanize him, to restore him to his capacity of action in all its fullness. He too must be a subject, an actor” (Boal, 155). We must become actors, for without action we are forever stuck in constant oppressiveness. Volunteer to register voters in your community or on your campus and inform them of the Libertarian Party and where it stands on the issues. Don’t just register them. Educate them. Discuss these issues with your neighbors, and inform those who may be misinformed. Distribute informative election materials and signs around your community. There is so much more to a participatory democracy than simply voting, and in order for the Libertarian Party to be America’s Party we all have to participate more. “The poetics of the oppressed is essentially the poetics of liberation: the spectator no longer delegates power to the characters either to think or to act in his place. The spectator frees himself; he thinks and acts for himself! Theater is action! Perhaps the theater is not revolutionary in itself; but have no doubts, it is a rehearsal of revolution!” Life is all action, too, and until we act together we’ll accomplish nothing.
Brookfield, Stephen D. The Power of Critical Theory. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2005.
Boal, Augusto. Theatre of the Oppressed. New York: Theatre Communications Group, 1985.
Finlayson, James. Habermas: A Very Short Introduction. New York: Oxford, 2005.
Foucault, Michel. Discipline and Punish. New York: Vintage Books, 1977.
Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum, 1960.
Marcuse, Herbert. One-Dimensional Man. Boston: Beacon, 1964.
Shirky, Clay. Cognitive Surplus. New York: Penguin, 2010.
Tags: act, action, actor, america, american, augusto boal, boal, campaign, choice, communicate, communication, communicative action, Democracy, Democrat, election, foucault, free, Freedom, freire, gay, Government, habermas, Human, humanity, internet, Law, liberation, Libertarian, Libertarian Party, Liberty, life, marcuse, marriage equality, michel foucault, Money, one-dimensional, oppressed, oppressor, order, panoptic, panopticism, participant, participate, participatory, party, paulo freire, poetics of the oppressed, politic, Politics, Power, Republican, responsibility, Revolution, social, spectator, surveil, theater, theatre, vote
One of the biggest divides between anarchists is whether or not property, or “ownership” is a legitimate concept. This post seeks to define and disassemble those differences in order to help each side gain a better understanding of the issue, my thoughts on the issue, and the classic anarchist perspective on property.
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, the founding father of free market socialist theory and the first individual to document use of the word ‘anarchism’ said “property is theft.” He also said “property is freedom.”
To get there, I think we first need to talk a little bit about concepts in general. A concept is nothing more than a structure in someone’s mind, at the very least. It need not be common with anyone else, it can exist solely for one individual, or it can exist for an entire society.
In modern society, property and “ownership” exist as a concept. Backed by the authority of the state, a title in the state’s record, and a police force willing and able to use force to defend a state-sanctioned claim to ownership, it is a very real concept. The structures which make ownership a real, concrete concept are in place. A third party which has a monopoly, enforced at gunpoint, on the power to determine ownership, will use force to ensure that the concept of ownership which it believes to be correct, just, and valid, will be respected by the masses. A tremendous majority of people go along with this, and among even those who don’t, most at least fear the power of the state to enforce it anyhow. Thus, the state’s conception of ownership is a concept common to a very sizeable portion of the population. When you talk about property or ownership in most of the world, this is what will come to mind for most people.
In modern society, everything is owned, and that ownership is enforced by the state. Nothing is truly common or public; those things which the state claim are public are in fact property of the state. Try sleeping in a park, and a cop is likely to show you who’s boss in that park! If it were truly public or common, not only could you sleep there, you could build a small house there and plant a sustenance garden.
All that said, the fact that ownership and property are defined by the state effectively means that the state can do whatever it wants, and does not have to respect the property which is “owned” by other people. We see this occur regularly, your property can be seized for not paying taxes on it, or even on a whim via “eminent domain.” Asset fortfeiture laws which enrich local police departments have come into vogue in the US. The state may protect your property from a thief, ineffectually, but who is to protect it from the state? They have a lot of agents, and a lot of guns and bombs. The state can pass laws that disenfranchise people who had relied on their protection and the people can do nothing about it but meekly protest. The thief can burglarize your home, and the police will come and file a report, but you’ve still been burglarized. If you shoot the thief, you’ve committed murder, and, in many states, will go to jail for it. The state must maintain a monopoly on that authority to defend, lest *it* be subject to being defended against by an armed populace.
So under a state system, we see that property and ownership are essentially a rigged game. Worthwhile to the extent that people fear the state and mostly stay in line, but not always, and deviance from this is common enough that people invest large amounts of effort, time, and money into systems designed to prevent theft, even though the framework of state title, police, and insurance companies still exist. Some folks have decided that they’ve had enough! They want property rights that actually means something, that they can defend for themselves, and that they can defend against any aggressor, including the state. This requires two things on their end: an intellectual framework – a conceptualization of property and “ownership” – and a real framework – the force which can be used to defend their own conceptualization in order to prohibit others from violating it, such as guns and bombs and man-power. For the former, rather than create a whole new philosophy and a whole new conceptualization, they seek out existing ones. Anarchism: a stateless society! Natural law: a concept which allows for essentially subjective “law” to stake a claim to objectivity under the guise of emmanating from a higher power. Unfortunately for many modern “natural law” advocates who also claim to be anarchists, they are also atheists, and so their arguments in favor of natural law lack the authority by which Aquinas first declared it to be a valid concept, that is, God’s authority. Natural law as a concept originated, you see, within the Catholic church hierarchy.
The problems with this framework are obvious. Natural law as a concept, when taken outside the context of Catholic (or at least religious, deistic) doctrine, is as meaningless as any law that I can arbitrarily come up with, or you can arbitrarily come up with, or any would-be despot with a few guns and a few tacos short of a fiesta tray can come up with. So that’s where this essentially goes. You have someone with their own independent concept of what the law should be (which they declare to be the one true law) and some guns. And a willingness to enforce the law by killing people. At the end of the day, after all, authority either comes down to a willingness to kill someone who violates it, or it is not authority at all, but merely a request from one individual to another.
Anarchists have always had another proposal, however, and one which is largely ignored by those who claim to be anarchists yet advocate in favor of natural law, property “rights”, and various concepts of “ownership”. That proposal is quite a bit simpler, and while still subjective, it’s admittedly subjective, staking no claims to objectivity or authority. That proposal is common sense, community moors and norms, and community solidarity. Such community moors and norms, and common sense, do not come from God or any other proclaimed deity, nor do they originate with a state or with some individual or collective of humans who claim authority over all others. They exist fluidly, they allow for human imperfection, and human decency.
In an anarchist society, given a lack of natural law, a lack of the state, and of any other authority which could declare who owns what, “ownership” becomes an abstract concept. A hopelessly abstract one, at that. There are no defining factors of what allows someone to own something. Some have tried to qualify and quantify various “objective” criteria for how one can own something. One prominent example is that some would claim that once you have mixed your labor with land, you own that land. My response is, of course, that I plan to walk quickly across the continent, re-arranging twigs and leaves on the ground and upturning the soil with my boot, such that I shall own tremendous tracts of land! Then they may pay rent to me to live or farm upon that land. Such a society quickly begins to look like feudalism, wherein those who did not upturn dirt and re-arrange twigs and leaves quickly enough shall be the serfs. Utter silliness ensues. Not only is it utter silliness, however, it’s also absolutely antithetical to anarchism.
As anarchism is defined loosely as a society without oppressive/coercive hierarchies, clearly landlord/tenant relationships are out. As a libertarian, I hold the non-aggression principle close to my heart. I don’t wish to initiate force or coercion against other people, and I don’t like it when other people do so, either. So much so, that I’d be inclined to step in if warranted and willed. When you evict a tenant or a serf from “your” land, by force, because they failed to pay you, you are initiating force against someone. You did not need that land to live (obviously, if you could give use of it to another), however they were reliant upon it as their home. They resided in it.
In anarchism, that would effectively make it their home. Not that they “own” it, per se – ownership is an abstract concept that anarchists do not make use of – but that it is still, nonetheless, theirs, in that they occupy and reside there. They maintain control of it when they are not home by virtue of the respect of their friends, neighbors, and community at large. You might kill a murderer who kills your neighbor, not only for revenge, but also to prevent them from killing you. Likewise, you might prohibit in some manner, someone from damaging or destroying your neighbor’s residence, lest you likewise end up a victim of the same. Thus, in the absence of “ownership” concepts, individuals and collectives still maintain control over the things which they posess or occupy. Absentee control can occur in a number of ways. For another example, if I am a part of a worker co-op restaurant, my control in that sphere would exist even when I was not present, because of the mutual respect and kinship among the workers. Those who are present would respect my wishes, as I would theirs when I am present and they are not. This may include not allowing certain behaviors in the restaurant. This may also include things like not messing with the desk that I prefer to use in an office.
Now let’s talk a little bit about self ownership. On the surface, the concept of self ownership seems like a pretty good idea to most people. You own your own body, so people can’t do things to you that you don’t want them to, etc. The problem here again is that ownership is a hopelessly abstract concept for anarchists, and for others, it implies something entirely different than what people mean by self ownership. The simplest way to put it is thus: you don’t own yourself, you ARE yourself. To most people, something owned is a commodity. I can be bought, sold, or traded. You cannot be bought, sold, or traded. You have free will, and that free will trumps claims of ownership. You ARE yourself. It goes far beyond ownership, and even beyond just posession, occupancy, or control. You have the highest level of control over yourself, you have free will. That control cannot be bought, sold, or traded, as control over a commodity could be under a typical conceptualization of “ownership.” You don’t own yourself, you ARE yourself.
Now, let’s talk a bit about posession and try to define it a bit with some common sense examples. When you’re wearing a sock, you posess that sock. If you leave a sock lying on the side of the street unattended, you do not – and it’s most likely you don’t control that sock either, since most people will not even know that you once posessed it, much less stand up to a person who needs a sock to keep a foot warm and hence takes it and puts it on. That person now posesses the sock, and you no longer have any more valid claim to it than someone else did when you were wearing it. Thus, it’s safe to say that no one would come up to you and attempt to take from you something that you posess, and that if someone did, you would defend yourself and others would likely come to your defense as well!
One other concept worth mentioning is hoarding and artificial scarcity. Since we’ve already stated that your ability to maintain control over the things that you consider to be yours relies on community support in lieu of the support of the monopoly-on-force power of the state, it’s worth considering that if you wrong your community, you may find yourself at a loss or worse. Attempts to hoarde resources to create artificial scarcity as is so common in today’s society would likely be met with hostility from those who suffer due to that scarcity. Such hostility would be wholly justified, as well, for to use such a method is to create a hierarchy of “have” and “have not” which likewise leads to oppression and tyranny. Expect, under such a circumstance, that your community would see you as any tyrant or oppressor. Change can occur in communities, but it’s based upon the ability to logically converse with your community and not your ability to use force to oppress them into doing things your way or believing what you do.
There *is* abundance in this world. The scarcity is entirely artificial, and is based on “ownership” concepts used to justify hoarding of resources, enforced by the state. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. In anarchism, everyone is rich. In a free market socialism system such as I advocate personally, some may be a little more rich, or a little less rich, but everyone would be rich. Only by the power of a tiny few hoarding more than they could ever use, much less need, does poverty exist in this world.
Finally, given that most anarchists see “ownership” as a hopelessly abstract concept, it makes a lot more sense to use words that make sense and are backed by concrete concepts; words like posession, occupancy, residence, and control.
Reprinted from KnowBites
Once we open up to the idea that alternatives exist that honor individual liberty, while maintaining honor of and with each other, we can freely explore and discuss what some of those options may be. In answer to Kirsten Tynan, (see part 1) who pressed the question of a specific example, here is what I have come up with as one potential solution.
- Eliminate Government Inequities and Control First, we begin with fixing the existing inequities by eliminating government involvement in our couple partnerships. Literally slam the door on state and federal involvement in the personal, moral aspects of our lives, beginning with our Couple Partnering relationships, as well as our resolvable family issues.
- Marriage License Replacement It is simple enough to create a Couple Partnering Agreement that contractually states what a couple is committing to. Government should not license or oversee this process in any way. Like any private business partnership today, the content of the partners’ commitment to each other can be both general and specific, according to their intent for their relationship. The choice of whether or not to involve attorney representation would be entire up to those seeking to create this Agreement.
- Marriage Certificate Replacement If they choose to “certificate” their relationship, why not do as we do with other documents and adapt from templates or buy from a service focused on design and production of these things. It would be easy enough to develop a Couple Partnering Agreement or even a Partner Commitment packet that includes all of the templates for DIY adaptation, for those who want full control and have the capability to use them.
- Establish Independent Local Registries I see a difference between “licensing” and “registering”, so would probably promote the idea of a local registry with final copies of signed and notarized docs provided by the couple as a protection against any legal challenge. This would be a voluntary service for their benefit, not a control-based, governmental permission system such as we have today. The partners should be able to include any additional paperwork involved or add in more later – such as child rearing and custody arrangements, termination, etc.
- Adaptations of Marriage Ceremony As for the “soft side” of this commitment, we already have all types of personally designed ceremonies between partners. This is where the gay/lesbian community could contribute and become a valuable resource to the rest of us, since they have been forced to be creative in their partnering ceremonies. A Partnering ceremony can look very like it does today – and evolve at the will of those involved.
- Replace Marriage Vows With greater liberty and acceptance, the partners’ vows have the opportunity to become unique vows, enabling them to choose from others’ published or gifted vows or be adapted from templates or written themselves…or they can hold to the traditional words. The option is entirely up to each couple, which is as it should be, since it is those who make these commitments who must live them.
- Adapt Wedding Planner Services Instead, become a Partner Planning Service. Again, the wrapping and experience can and should be whatever the couple wants it to be…and a Partner Planning Service could become wonderful support and a newly revised and evolving industry with more creative opportunities through niche and individual customizations.
- Replace Divorce A Partnering Termination Agreement with specifics on liquidation of assets, child custody arrangements, etc, could be voluntarily executed at will by either or both partners – without courtrooms or any government oversight. This could be done with a Partner Termination Packet, which can be done DIY or with optional attorney representation.
- Limiting Court Involvement & Unburdening Our Legal System In the event that one or the other is uncooperative or seeks unfair advantage – when all else breaks down between them – only THEN should our court system get involved. But this involvement is limited to the four corners of the original Partnering Agreement, any Addendums that may have been previously filed with both signatures notarized, and execution of existing termination clauses or a formal Partnering Termination Agreement as filed, secured and verified via their local registry as proof of what their Partnering Agreement actually was. Courts should be adjudicating CONTRACT LAW, not moralities, values, beliefs. Nor should they be wasting time and taxpayer money listening to out of control people playing out their dramas in our court system. So, those who DO end up standing before our judges to have their lives sorted out must be seen by society at large as being the failures, too immature to deal honestly with each other. Of course, there are abuse situations and unique challenges among some of these couples that require judicial assistance, but if we cut the fat out of our family law courts, we enable much higher quality attention and more resources to be applied to more serious situations.
- Replace Existing Inequitable Business Practices In order to eliminate the inequities in industry practices, we can legislate validity of Couple Partnering Agreements in general. This would enable legal recourse for any business that refuses to honor the partners’ legal commitment to each other. While in transition, the traditional marriage state should continue to be honored until all couples currently participating in this old system have either converted to the new system, divorced or died. At that point in the future, this old form of marriage would become historical.
The Partnering Agreements should include the legal basis for partner insurance coverage, medical decision-making, financials and any other business items that the couple feels is appropriate. For example, Insurance companies and other businesses would be legally required to honor the Partners’ legal relationship, just as they do now for marriages. In addition, the Agreement is legally enforceable so that families and others are barred from interference in partner-related decisions, as they are today within the marriage structure.
- Adapt Social Expectations Socially, the couple represents themselves as life partners in the same ways that marriage affords couples to do today. Adapting as a society is education-dependent, as well as a comfort zone that is created over time as more and more people take advantage of these relationship alternatives. As liberty becomes the foundational basis for civilization, exercising liberty will eventually feel natural and the old marriage concept that originated from gender slavery will be valued only as historical perspective.
- Adapt Spiritual/Religious Expectations The core of any spiritual or religious practice in regards to marriage is to ceremonially perform spiritual vows or whatever a particular model of tradition requires. Altering the legal and social basis of couple partnering, in reality, has no impact or business impacting this area of life. We tend to entangle the spiritual and legal practices (church and state), but this is simply habitual. It is the honoring of legalities – whatever they happen to be – that completes the spiritual obligations, not the marriage structure itself. Again, this transition would require education and reassurance that those married today or choosing this alternative approach will continue to be joined together and have their commitments honored.
The above alternative system is the best example that I have come up with to-date to empower liberty to be exercised in couple partnering relationships. It represents much more than simply living together, but is framed in a such a way that it bars government or society at large from imposing its ideas upon individuals. It has fluidity, in that there is no mandatory wait time, no hoops to jump through, no ugly court pressures or unnecessary taxpayer expenses.
That brings me to the advantages this type of system affords taxpayers through tremendous savings in judicial labor, court operations expenses and what I would estimate could be an over 50% reduction in the existing justice system workload in the area of family law. I don’t have the current statistics on how many people end up in court versus co-petitioning agreeably, thereby avoiding the added heartbreak and considerable expenses of litigated divorce. But the majority of people, if given the option, would have strong incentives to work out their own fair settlements and custody arrangements. Obviously, the projection of probable budget gains to taxpayers can be estimated by studying the stats on our existing system. One thing I do know is that these kinds of practical solutions are NOT the focus of our Congress, our White House and the American People. Why is that?
Change does not have to be hard…and the change itself usually isn’t. It is in making the decision to change that people struggle so hard with, taking 95% of the consumed time and energy. There are many alternatives to our existing system – every aspect and institution. We just need to put our heads together to come up with all of the liberty-based ideas that we can, then form the best structure to empower us to create our own answers for ourselves.
There is no legitimate reason to force relationships to be or reflect anything other than what they actually are.
This is a two-part article. If you missed the first part, SEE: Redefining Liberty in Couple Partnering Relationships (Part 1/2)
Tags: Agreement, Alternative, Awareness, Couple, Couple Partnering, Court, discrimination, Equality, Evolutionary, GonzoTimes, Governments, Honesty, Inequality, justice, Liberty, local, Local Registry, Marriage, Morals, Partner, Partnering, Private, PunkJohnnyCash, Register, Relationship, religion, Solution, Trust, Truth, Values
Reprinted from KnowBites
Written in response to Marriage Is An Orgy, Why Not To Marry, Posted at GonzoTimes by PunkJohnnyCash on Jun 20, 2011. Found here: http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/1ft4Hu/www.gonzotimes.com/2011/06/marriage-is-an-orgy-why-not-to-marry/, as well as to the subsequent comments by some of his other readers.
PunkJohnnyCash hit a home run on this one…and triggered a discussion among readers that bring out valuable insights regarding the actual structure and purpose of marriage itself – and whether or not the existing model is the best approach to anchoring couple relationships.
In the process of participating in this exchange, I found greater clarity in my own life and was able to let go of my own sense of repetitive failure to “add up the years” with one person. I discovered that it is not failure to recognize and walk away from real incompatibility. It is simply honesty with self and others in reflection and forms of life choices. So, to start, I want to personally thank PunkJohnnyCash for taking the time to write your article. And I also want to thank the users on his site who considered this question of the marriage structure worthy of participation.
I walked away from the whole marriage concept years ago and never looked back. It amazes me how gays/lesbians fight for the privilege of having their “qualifications” for their core relationships vetted by states, churches and society as a whole like everyone else. What’s up with that?!!! If you aren’t in prison, why the hell would you dig your way under the fence to get in just because the majority are locked up in there? LOL! It makes no sense to me.
Jamayla made a comment in response to my – somewhat sarcastic – question “What’s up with that?!!!” (above), that: “Perhaps because they’d like to benefit from the 1300+ advantages currently afforded cisgender, het couples? Tax breaks, visiting their sick partner in hospitals or prisons, child custody issues, inheritances, and so on.”
Great point. There are so many inequalities embedded within our existing institutions and systemic thinking that the notion of our government imposing or supporting equality would be laughable, if the reality didn’t hurt so many of us so damn much.
Both church and state are equally to blame, whether we’re talking about marriage laws, taxes, endless welfare or any other government-sanctioned imposition of inequality. But both church and state are reflections of the majorities’ ideas and mentalities, so blaming some nebulous power source for these impositions of inequality is an attempt to escape culpability for the damage. It’s inexcusable.
People wonder why we’re seeing such extremism in different groups, but it isn’t tough to figure out. We all need the same things – to be seen, to be valued, to be free to make our own choices and to feel that sense of belonging and acceptance. Strange that too often we steal from each other or outright destroy for others that which we have failed to achieve in ourselves.
What we are seeing is a failed mentality in ourselves as a collective that is glaringly reflected in our governments, our institutions, in our religions, in our communities and in our homes. Greater and greater numbers of us are sick to death of social engineering in all of its “oh, so sweetly coated” forms. Poison is poison. And Karma is real. The stench of our unloving, prejudicial and straight up false impositions upon each other has become so horrific that it cannot be ignored anymore. We talk liberty, but too many among us still think like slave masters when it comes to others. We are far too deeply embedded in our hypocrisies and falsely imposed ideas. Hardly surprising we ended up in this condition.
For all of the hooha over marriage as the ultimate goal, especially imposed by society on women, what are the stats reflecting the reality of experience? When all those espousing religion as their reason – both to impose marriage upon some and to deny it to others – where, then, is the love that is lost before any vows are spoken? To institutionalize sovereignty violations in government is criminal, truly. Why should love in any adult-to-adult relationship be forbidden by anyone? Who gives others the right to interfere in the voluntary commitments between people. Our Constitution lays out equality that has to-date never actually existed in America or elsewhere.
Kirsten Tynan asks a very good question in her first comment that strikes at the very heart of this issue.
“What would be an example of expressing commitments without reflecting human ownership?”
This is an “if not this, then what?” focus, which demands us to think honestly about what alternative solutions are available or can be created to replace what is currently broken. I truly appreciate people like Kirsten who seek answers rather than chewing problems to death and “sticking them in their hair” as victimization trophies. (Probably because I made a career out of doing that earlier in my life!) So, I sat and stared at this question for a long while before coming up with the only answer that makes any sense to me, which is:
Perhaps adaptations of the marriage concept that instill liberty, honesty and trust as the reality (and measuring standards) of commitment between people. Truth is, the wrapping and experience, then, is free to become whatever those involved intend and are capable of creating.
We have the right as individuals to choose or create our own models rather than having segments amongst us dictate to and impose upon us those models that THEY have chosen for themselves. To have government power added to twisted, false and unloving mentalities doesn’t make their original ideas any more valid or less of a violation of individual sovereignty.
Shouldn’t our closest relationship – as couples – directly reflect who we are, what we believe and how we want to live out our lives? When “two become one”, as the saying goes, what we end up with should reflect both people as individuals plus the added dimensions empowered by the intermixing of their unique dynamics. The real reason for their joining together in the first place, if based upon love, is the experience of what cannot be experienced without each other. What government or religion do you know of that can successfully legislate or regulate the heart or the mind? It’s not possible.
History demonstrates that neither church or state is able to mandate and control who or how people love each other…or whether or not they love at all. Proof of that are the divorce, substance misuse, and self/other abuse stats that clearly demonstrate that those who espouse and promote the existing marriage model that has been imposed on society at large are having the same pitiful result as that of the secular community.
Jamayla also finished her comment with a statement that highlights the choice of voluntary participation in many of our existing institutionalized prejudicial structures, by saying: “There are institutions that some gays & lesbians are trying to assimilate into that actively oppress other people in very real ways (the gays in the military issue, for instance), but I don’t think this [marriage] is one of them.”
What she brings to this discussion with this statement is the fact of individual responsibility to evaluate our participation in any and all forms of society. There is high risk of hypocrisy whenever we unconsciously act like lemmings and follow the crowd without taking the time and energy required to fully see where their path will lead us. We cannot continue to accept convenient rationalizations for our own actions when those actions result in violations to others’ individual or collective sovereignty, whether domestic or foreign.
We cannot legitimately exercise our own liberties at others’ expense.
If two people are confident in who they are and what they offer, in their compatibility with each other, there is no reason to forfeit liberty to the state or each other. One huge advantage to living without a marriage certificate is that there is no ability to take each other for granted and begin reducing the courtesies and considerations that should be most evident in the relationships closest to us. Marriage has a way of making people feel that they have “arrived” at a destination. So they get too damn comfortable and quit putting effort out. Counting the years you’ve been married is really laughable as a measure of success. How many marriages out there are there that have eaten up decades of people’s lives – decades of unhappiness and rut-bound living that was totally unnecessary and deprived these people of who and what they could have been.
Any one with half a brain and even partially awake can see that government has no place in moral issues or relationship definitions. Marriage is a business convenience for categorization…and it enforces lock-down with one person who may be, but too often is not, a compatible match. One piece of paper does not a marriage make. Statistics of divorce and abuse between spouses proves that off the top. Marriage too often is a feather in someone’s cap or a proof to having become adult or a means to get financial and other needs met. Religions demanding their congregations acquire state sanctions of this type have caused more problems than they have solved. No one can force commitment where none exists.
Another factor is that people change over time…or at least they should. Attempting to commit to being the same person for the duration of your lifetime – which is far longer in longevity than it used to be – is both unrealistic and taking a stance that is a direct barrier to self-evolution. Are we really here simply to exist day after day or are we here to seek, discover and evolve? Simply following the latter approach to life would prevent locking yourself in with someone who may at any time refuse to grow or choose to pursue an opposite direction from you. Love supports – and indeed welcomes – that natural growth rather than seeks to control and contain it for selfish gain.
If an existing model – such as today’s lamestream marriage structure – does not work significantly for all who use it, then there is no justification for either its refinement or its continued use. That’s just a simple, scientific fact.
Jamayla, again: “I don’t have any interest in involving the state…Not just because marriage has been an oppressive institution, historically; but because divorce is a messy clusterfuck…” Her statement stands without need of further commentary from me. Having been through divorce more than once, I couldn’t agree more.
So, don’t ever sacrifice the reality of who you are and the liberty you have to choose in the present moment simply to gain acceptance from others. It isn’t worth the price you have to pay, believe me. Keep your liberty to make decisions every moment of every day and love like there is no tomorrow.
I would rather join my life path with someone who is entirely comfortable with my ability to make a different choice at any time. It prevents either person from getting too damn comfortable when he/she knows the other can pack up and move on if disrespected or mistreated or ignored – all a result of being undervalued. Love does not seek its own benefit only, but encompasses the one who is loved.
Practicing liberty consciously in our relationships also provides an aspect of daily choice that honors the one chosen in ways that the existing institution of marriage never will. Instead of picking your partner one time and being “locked into” that choice, you pick your partner every moment of every day…even on the bad days. And that is the epitome of love.
Btw: Using children as the excuse for keeping pitiful-broken-dysfunctional adult relationships together is unrealistic and unfair to the kids. Often, the ugliness between parents is all the kids remember about their childhoods and the internal urge to escape their parents’ self-state-church-imposed asylum. How healthy is that? “For the sake of the children”…REALLY? Even given how many children grow up in so-called “broken” homes, yet have such solid loving support from both parents that their needs are met quite well? If this healthy interaction can be achieved by some parents who live separate lives, then “staying for the children” is an excuse of self-convenience.
There is no legitimate reason to force relationships to be or reflect anything other than what they actually are.
Tags: Agreement, Alternative, Awareness, Couple, Couple Partnering, Court, discrimination, Equality, Evolutionary, GonzoTimes, Governments, Honesty, Inequality, justice, Liberty, local, Local Registry, Marriage, Morals, Partner, Partnering, Private, PunkJohnnyCash, Register, Relationship, religion, Solution, Trust, Truth, Values
In the first part of this series (here) I argued that Karl Marx’s Individual is the same Individual who appears in the writings of 18th and 19th Century thinkers. Moreover, Marx’s assumptions imply an environment of Hobbes’ war of all against all and an increasingly illiberal, repressive and aggressive, parasitic State.
In the second part of this series (here) I argued that Marx never believed that there would need to be a period of state socialism to achieve a stateless society. His model of a revolutionary reconstitution of society rested on the idea of a free voluntary cooperative association, which emerges directly out of capitalist society and, which would be the only form of social organization in this stateless community. Marx’s model of the emergence of this voluntary association assumed it occurred empirically, i.e., as an act of commonsense necessity to everyone.
In the third part of this series (here) I argued that Marx did far more than merely uncover the secret of the worker’s exploitation. Marx’s theory is not a theory of labor’s exploitation under the capitalist system but a theory of social decomposition and transformation of labor activity: ripping the producers from their property; casting them into the ranks of the Proletarians; molding their activity through centuries of despotic capitalist rule into directly social cooperative laborers employing means of production that could only be put into motion by their combined cooperative effort. The transformative process comes to an end when it is no longer profitable to employ labor power under any circumstances — an event which compels the proletarians to take control of their own productive capacities as individuals and organize their activity in free voluntary association.
In this part I will show why Brad is wrong when he states that Marx’s theory requires an unusually altruistic individual to realize the voluntary association. Marx’s theory does not in any way involve a society of unusually altruistic individuals, because it rests on the assumption that scarcity itself has been abolished.
Brad, in his post, “Marxism And Libertarian Exploitation Theory”, argues:
[Marx's] analysis does not take into account individual goals, which is a very human desire to maximize gains for one’s self and one’s own. Humans are cooperative, but we are cooperative individuals. Cooperation can be sustained in a system of mutual benefit, but humans typically have a difficult time sacrificing for the collective over the long haul. Anarcho-socialism relies on such mutual cooperation (and sacrifice) in the absence of a coercive entity, and thus relies on human nature to be compatible with such a system.
Is this assumption actually correct? Does Marx’s theory assume that the individual sacrifice for the collective over the long haul? Let’s begin by returning to Marx’s sketch of the circumstances surrounding the birth of a society founded directly on voluntary association.
In Marx’s model of the State, this parasitic entity appears to hover over society. This separation of the State from Civil Society is in some sense real and in another sense only apparent: as Brad Warbiany demonstrates, the best writers of the time saw in many State actions of the 18th and 19th Century the expression of some definite interest of specific groups in society — a trail of evidence that could probably be traced to the actual motives of specific individuals, as some have argued in the case of our own War on Terror. However, even with these observations it is far from correct to view the State as a mere instrument of any given interest within Civil Society — that it always expresses, for instance, the will of the capitalist class against the working class in some vulgar fashion. It is closer to the truth to understand that the State is the expression of the interests of Capital — a social relationship between and within the two classes, which is not, nor can it be, identical with the interests of either class, nor any particular faction of either class.
If some particular State action can be traced to the interests of one or the other class, and to one or another faction or groups of individuals within either class, it is necessary to point out that it represents those interests within the limits imposed on it by Capital itself. It is possible, therefore, for the State to both express the general interest of all social classes within the limits of capitalist relations, and, simultaneously, appear indifferent, hostile, and an increasingly intolerable burden to the whole of society. Thus, while bourgeois writers after Marx increasingly explain the actions of the State by reference to the interests of one or another faction of society — for the Nazis, it was Jews and communists; in our own time it has been black helicopter conspiracies, the Illuminati, or some other such nonsense — Marx’s theory explains those actions by referencing the general conditions prevalent under capitalist social relations.
I believe the above picture of the relation between the State and Civil Society has implications not only for the politics of capitalist society, it has implications for the manner in which the category Value expresses itself as well. Moishe Postone, in his painstaking reconstruction of Marx’s thinking on Labor as a Value creating activity, “Time, Labor, and Social Domination”, showed that Value — which Marx defined as the socially necessary labor time required to produce labor-power — was not only the basis for the exploitation of the worker in the form of surplus labor time — which, in his model, is the source of profit, interest and rent — but also the basis for a peculiar form of labor activity: superfluous labor time; the period of labor activity which is entirely superfluous to the productive employment of labor power either for the production of wage goods or capital goods.
Where does this superfluous labor time come from?
With the increasing productivity of social labor, an increasing share of the existing labor-power can no longer be profitably employed, i.e., employed by capitals for the purpose of creating surplus value. Capital begins to exhibit symptoms of relative breakdown: an entirely superfluous mass of proletarians who cannot find employment, a mass of machinery which can no longer be put to use by these proletarians, a mass of money-capital which cannot find profitable investment opportunities, and a mass of commodities which cannot be sold.
On the one hand, this so-called deficit in “aggregate demand”, Marx declares, is nothing more than the necessity for a general reduction in hours of work expressed in the form of the law of Value prevailing in capitalist society. On the other hand, since, the purchase and sale of labor power remains essential to Capital itself, and the basis for both the subsistence of the proletarians and the extraction of surplus value by capitals, the necessity for a general reduction in hours of work takes its opposite form: A general social demand from the two great classes in capitalist society for intervention by the State to increase “aggregate demand” by various measures — in other words, for action by the State for active economic policy intervention designed to ensure that the essential condition of Capital — the purchase and sale of labor-power — can continue uninterrupted.
This intervention, which is essentially fascistic, accompanies the rise of the Fascist State, and rests on the interests of both great classes in capitalist society insofar as they are considered only as poles of the relation, Capital, explains the astonishing growth of the State in the 20th Century, which expands from an estimated mere 3 percent of United States Gross Domestic Product to approximately 43 percent in 2010, with an accumulated debt that is greater than the total annual output of the United States’ economy — and currently increasing at the unprecedented rate of more than ten percent per year.
It is precisely in this unprecedentedly enlarged cancer on society that what Michael O. Powell, in his post, “Rethinking Marx”, calls the “high degree of capital to fund” voluntary association is already present in its latent form, as an constantly increasing mass of productive capacity being expended in the wholly unproductive — and from the standpoint of a voluntary association, wholly unnecessary — form of State expenditures. The conversion of the relative breakdown of Capital into its absolute form, which implies the collapse of active State intervention in the economy, frees the entirety of the productive capacity of society from both the dependence on profit as the motive force of productive activity, and the overwhelming mass of this capacity from its wasteful and superfluous employment by the State.
The members of society, who are by this collapse, compelled to create a voluntary cooperative association, find themselves awash in an abundance of productive capacity exceeding, by far, any measurable need for it. With the abolition of the State, the need for Labor itself disappears, taking with it the epoch of scarcity,the Law of Value, Class society, and all the ugly muck of ages.
Tags: abstract individual, abundance, Adam Smith, aggregate demand, capital, capitalists, Civil Society, class interest, class society, Classes, Classical liberalism, deficit spending, economic policy, fascism, Federal Reserve, fiscal policy, gdp, general interest, hours of labor, interest, Karl Marx, labor power, law of value, Libertarianism, Liberty, Marxism, Moishe Postone, monetary policy, productive forces, profit, Proletarians, Property, prouctivity, public debt, rent, scarcity, superfluous labor, surplus value, the Individual, The State, value, voluntary association, wages, War on Terror
Now, perhaps it becomes clearer why Marx, in his exasperation with his own followers, declared, “All I know is that I am not a Marxist.” It was never about the machines, the buildings, the banks, the factories, the farms or profit, taxes and wages — it was about the Individual and her relationship to other Individuals and Society.
In his writings, Marx sets for himself an apparent impossibly wide chasm across which he has to build a theoretical bridge. In this, he does not allow himself to take any shortcuts through some inventive sham of attributing to human beings some quality that has not, as yet, been discovered by political-economy, nor of some revolutionary party for whom the future appears with a clarity that none of the rest of society can experience.
On the one side of this historical chasm, which Marx must bridge theoretically, is a stateless, classless society of amazing abundance, wherein the individual is able to develop her capacities in an environment of complete freedom, unimpeded by any external compulsion, be it natural or social, and in a free voluntary cooperative association with others in society. Her activity springs entirely from herself, and expresses only her interest as a well-rounded human being in the social and cultural wealth that is freely available to her, and to which she can freely contribute should that be her desire.
On the other side of this chasm is the Hobbesian nightmare we call present day society.
Faced with the seemingly impossible task of conceptually bridging these two models of society, Marx begins with nothing but the categories of political-economy discovered by the great classical liberal thinkers of the 18th and 19th Centuries — the Individual, the State, Civil Society, Classes, Property, Liberty — Marx does not invent these categories but imports them into his model.
- The Individual who appears in political-economy — the abstract human being shorn of any identity or ties of affinity to family, gender, community, religion, language, race, nation — is the Individual alone who appears in his writings.
- The State, which is already becoming characterized by illiberality, repression, aggression and totalitarianism, is the sole form of State in his writings. He does not, on any account, imagine some future benign State that can serve as a nanny for society while it finds its cooperative legs.
- Classes, and Civil Society generally, are constantly being subjected to the intolerable stresses of the developing economic structure of society, in which no individual, group of individuals, nor all of them together, can establish control over the processes unleashed by their own productive capacities — and which capacities loom over them as if some impersonal god who mercilessly sweeps away their undertakings like Yahweh swept away Sodom and Gomorrah.
- Even the heroes of this theory — the Proletarians — are deformed, stunted, broken fragments of human beings whose constant defeat is the mode of Capital’s own self-expansion — who rise each time from their knees, their ranks more numerous than before, to stand bloodied and bruised, and to again demand what belongs to them, but who are each time knocked down by a capital that is no more than their own capacities facing them in the alien but recognizable form of the capitalist.
- Finally, Value: that one category discovered by these great liberal thinkers that the whole of bourgeois political-economy after Marx was forced to reject, disown, and abandon.
Why is it that among all the categories of classical liberal thought Value alone was declared to be false and expelled from political-economy? What fear does it still strike in the hearts of economists? Why was it necessary to declare unremitting war on the category Value to this day?
Because this category of political-economy alone stripped all the other categories of their attribute of being Eternal Truths. Value declared all of these categories to be historically specific to the capitalist mode of production and, therefore, doomed to disappear taking with it the entirety of the inhuman Hobbesian environment that political-economy understood to be the permanent condition of mankind.
Value, Ricardo and the other classical thinkers declared, was the Individual’s own productive activity confronting her in the form of a commodity. Capital, Marx demonstrated, was simply Value that existed solely for its own self-expansion. It was nothing more than the activity of the men and women of society under conditions where their own activity, and all of the relations established by this activity, existed as a world for itself — impersonal, relentless, as formidable as any law of nature.
The Proletarians were simply former property-owners and their descendants who already had been stripped of their property, under whatever circumstances, by the brutal competition raging among the owners of property; with the fresh addition of former property owners added daily by Capital itself, society was being progressively turned into one propertyless mass. These former property-owners, now stripped of any independent means of “making a living”, were reduced to hiring themselves out as slaves in return for the means of life necessary to their survival.
(As an aside, Brad should not be confused by the much hyped expansion of the ranks of “property-owners” with those wage workers who are accumulating fictitious shares in companies through their 401Ks or, indirectly, through their pension funds — history shows that the big owners of property are always willing to offload these worthless paper claims to the sheeple at a good price, particularly when it is clear that the market is going to nosedive.)
Capital was only the result of this exchange, but, as a relentlessly expansionary social form, it required the continuous expansion of the ranks of proletarians — by outward aggression, for sure, but also by grounding under those property-owners with the misfortune to find themselves on the wrong side of its self-expansion. Thus, the process by which Capital satisfies its need for new material for its self-expansion not only implies the relentlessly aggressive and expansionary State, but the progressive concentration of property into the hands of an ever smaller circle of property-owners, as one after another they are cast into the ranks of the Proletarians.
However, the Proletarians, Marx wrote, were not simply being exploited — in all of written human history, no matter the stage of development, nor the mode of its realization, the labor of one portion of society has always been exploited by another section of society — with the capitalist mode of production the productive activity of the Proletarians was being transformed by Capital into directly social cooperative labor:
Hand in hand with this centralization, or this expropriation of many capitalists by few, develop, on an ever-extending scale, the cooperative form of the labour process, the conscious technical application of science, the methodical cultivation of the soil, the transformation of the instruments of labour into instruments of labour only usable in common, the economizing of all means of production by their use as means of production of combined, socialized labour, the entanglement of all peoples in the net of the world market, and with this, the international character of the capitalistic regime. Along with the constantly diminishing number of the magnates of capital, who usurp and monopolize all advantages of this process of transformation, grows the mass of misery, oppression, slavery, degradation, exploitation; but with this too grows the revolt of the working class, a class always increasing in numbers, and disciplined, united, organized by the very mechanism of the process of capitalist production itself.
Time and again, the revolt of this mass of Proletarians might fail — would fail — but with each failure, Capital advanced the conversion of their activity into a single, globe-straddling act of cooperative social production. With each defeat, he explained, their ranks were being added to by the ongoing decomposition of the class of property-owners, and the expansion into new territories; and, with each defeat, this mass of property-less individuals were being converted into a single social laborer.
Marx, like Smith, Ricardo, Mill, Jevons and other classical liberal thinkers, theorized that capitalist society was headed toward a catastrophic event — a breakdown resulting from the logic of the category Value itself, where it would no longer be profitable to employ wage labor under any conditions. Ultimately, Capital would run up against its limit of expansion, when, as David Harvey put it, it would be clear to all members of society that “compound growth for ever is not possible: capital accumulation can no longer be the central force impelling social evolution.” In very stark terms, Marx described what this event would look like:
“…the utterly precarious position of labour–power on a mass scale cut off from capital or from even a limited satisfaction and, therefore, no longer merely temporarily deprived of work itself as a secure source of life…”
At this point, the propertyless mass of society — who had been conditioned to cooperative labor through several centuries of despotic rule of the capitalist, and who, as a result, were entirely at home cooperating in a common act of social activity — would be compelled, on pain of starvation, to assume control of their own productive capacities and employ them in a cooperative manner.
Tags: abstract individual, Adam Smith, Civil Society, Classes, Classical liberalism, David Ricardo, fascism, John Stuart Mill, Karl Marx, Libertarianism, Liberty, Marxism, productive forces, Proletarians, Property, Stanley Jevons, the Individual, The State, value, voluntary association
I was somewhat surprised to see an interest in the theories of Karl Marx among at least a small section of libertarians, in the form of two recent articles, Brad Warbiany’s “Marxism And Libertarian Exploitation Theory” and Michael O. Powell’s “Rethinking Marx”. Given the continuing distortion among even most Marxists of Marx’s theories, not to mention the blatant misrepresentation of his views by official academic portraits of the man, I didn’t think anyone among those committed to the idea of a stateless society would be able to break through the clutter to try at least reclaim some of his ideas for our time.
That said, I want to clear up what I think might be some lack of clarity regarding his views that might allow others to experience them in a form that is more consistent with what I think was his intention. I am not an expert on Marx, so what I say here is only my best approximation of his ideas. They are always subject to dispute.
Brad Warbiany in his post made a serious stab at clarifying Marx’s views on the State. Based on his understanding of what Marx wrote, he found it quite incomprehensible that Marxists today can embrace the very machinery of repression that Marx himself rejected as illiberal, parasitic and oppressive. I agree that it is a complete betrayal of Marx by Marxists in this regard. However, Brad then makes what I think are a number of observation about Marx’s own views that are wrong, and reflect the distortions introduced into his theories by Marxists themselves.
Marx made what I would consider to be three critical mistakes in his analysis:
* Humanity has far too close of a relationship with property to function in an anarcho-socialist system.
* The state, once breaking the capitalists, had too many perks to let itself “wither away”.
* Much of his goals for workers “owning the means of production” are already beginning to occur within capitalism.
Brad then turns to the first of these mistakes:
“The first point is a bit of my own conjecture, but stems from Marx’s treatment of classes as classes rather than the more individualist libertarian treatment of classes as collections of disparate individuals. Marx saw the proletariat seizing the means of production and then finding harmonious sustainable ways to equitably distribute the fruits of such production. The analysis does not take into account individual goals, which is a very human desire to maximize gains for one’s self and one’s own. Humans are cooperative, but we are cooperative individuals. Cooperation can be sustained in a system of mutual benefit, but humans typically have a difficult time sacrificing for the collective over the long haul. Anarcho-socialism relies on such mutual cooperation (and sacrifice) in the absence of a coercive entity, and thus relies on human nature to be compatible with such a system. I do not believe human nature is so constituted — which, of course, is why I’m an anarcho-capitalist..”
Actually Marx’s view of social classes was probably the opposite of the way it is presented here. For Marx, capitalism is a society founded on universal competition much in the model of Hobbes’ “war of all against all”. Bereft of all means to produce for his own needs, the proletarian was the owner of himself alone; forced by this poverty to sell himself as a commodity. But, this sale took place in the context of a market where there were millions of like impoverished individuals; each of whom, on pain of starvation, were driven to conclude the same transaction in conditions of market competition. The intensely competitive environment into which they were thrown from birth onward was not by any means conducive to the formation of a social class consciousness. Marx argued that it was not really a class at all but merely the detritus of the decomposition of classes, composed entirely of individuals who had lost their property and, hence, were compelled to sell themselves into wage slavery. Although they shared a common circumstance, this circumstance was not by any means the basis for cooperative association. If they were to act more or less as a class, it would be the result of seeing their common interest through the dense fog of their relentlessly competitive environment.
His view of the capitalist class was not very different — under certain circumstances it could appear to act as a class, but there are also circumstances in which it clearly did not act as a class. In both cases, however, the relation between one capitalist owner and the rest was founded on a competitive clash of interests where the losers were consumed by the winners. So, both the class of proletarians and the class of capitalists were subject to an increasingly intense competitive environment. Moreover, both the relation between and among the class of capitalists, and the relation between and among the class of proletarians, rested on a larger ongoing class conflict between all capitalists and all workers over division of the product of the labor of the workers.
The picture one comes away with is that of a completely atomized environment in which every interest is counter-posed to every other interest in society; and, society itself acquires the character of a permanent, all-sided, all-encompassing state of civil conflict. It is a condition under which all human relations escape the control of the members of society, all productive activity is carried on without regard to the ends of any individual, group of individuals, or all of them together — in which this activity exists only for itself, and operates as a blind uncontrolled force in society that respects no individual will. The activity of the members of society appear to them as the blind action of economic laws over which they have no control; and, which appear for all the world as impersonal as any law of nature. All gain and loss incurred by individuals, their position in society, and their circumstances generally, appear completely accidental: as personal character traits, or birth, education, and luck.
To a degree not imagined in any libertarian scenario, Marx’s theory identifies the individual as an abstract individual — no longer as a distinct member of some social formation, but rather as one who is progressively stripped of every conceivable sort of direct social connection: affinities based on family, community, religion, language, race, nation are unceasingly subjected to the withering erosion of a nasty, foul, merciless and relentless hobbesian atmosphere until the individual as an individual is reduced to a mere abstract human being robbed of any particular identifying characteristics — a cipher, for whom any given characteristics are merely accidental and passing. It is this individual who makes his appearance in political economy, and in libertarian political thought, as the average member of society.
On this basis, we can not only understand the liberal background of Marx’s theory, but also what Chris Cutrone calls the increasingly illiberal State that appears to separate itself from this universal all-sided conflict; and, to hover over civil society as an interest independent of civil society and in conflict with it. In Marx’s model, it is not simply economic relations that escape the control of the members of capitalist society; all relations escape their control. The increasingly illiberal State reflects the fact that no one in society can establish any degree of self-interested control over economic processes without also establishing their self-interest as the general interest of the community — i.e., as a matter of State interest. Marx, in a more complete excerpt of the quote cited by Brad, warns that the State was,
“…increasing at the same rate as the division of labor inside the bourgeois society created new groups of interests, and therefore new material for the state administration. Every common interest was immediately severed from the society, countered by a higher, general interest, snatched from the activities of society’s members themselves and made an object of government activity – from a bridge, a schoolhouse, and the communal property of a village community, to the railroads, the national wealth, and the national University of France. Finally the parliamentary republic, in its struggle against the revolution, found itself compelled to strengthen the means and the centralization of governmental power with repressive measures. All revolutions perfected this machine instead of breaking it. The parties, which alternately contended for domination, regarded the possession of this huge state structure as the chief spoils of the victor.”
In Marx’s model, the State itself is being further developed as a parasite on society by the very forces of the ongoing civil conflict within society itself and the increasing complexity of this conflict. This complexity is nothing more than the increasingly sophisticated division of labor within society; and, the condition of utter dependence of the individual on society, who is, at the same time, in a state of universal competition against every other member of society and all of them together. The result of this process is not the realization of the bourgeois ideal of liberty, but an increasing illiberality of a State founded on an all-sided universal competitive conflict — ultimately leading directly to 20th Century Fascism, in which the State appears as a renunciation of civil conflict between classes, but also as its necessary political expression.
It is this model of society, which finds its expression in the categories of political-economy, as Liberty, the Individual, and the State, that serves as Marx’s point of departure for his own theory. Marx does not propose anything more than what the liberal writers of the 18th and 19th Centuries themselves assume with regard to the nature of these categories. And, it is important to understand that Marx — while rejecting the idea that these categories are in any way Eternal Truths — begins by accepting all of their assumptions as the starting point of his own work.
Then he begins to outline his theory on how the working out of the social process through these categories leads ultimately to voluntary cooperative association.
To be continued.
The state realizes that if it can address an issue it can profit from the issue. Let us take a bill here on the ballot in November. It is being sold as a way to ‘stop puppy mills’. The state has found a villain that many can oppose. In response the state proposed a new tax on these puppy mills. This has given them a new source of income. Under the context of a state I am not outraged that a puppy mill will be taxed. If I believed in a government I may be for such a thing. However I do not. The deception here is how it is being sold. People are rallying under the concept that a puppy mill will be stopped. In reality these puppy mills are not being stopped they are simply becoming a new source of revenue for the state.
Stopping puppy mills or addressing the conditions in such places will not be solved with taxes. This puts them in the same category as tobacco. The state demonizes to justify taxation and gain more wealth. They have not stopped either one.
We must look at what enables this. It is the same thing that enables most ‘law’. There is a need or a perceived need. We claim often as libertarians and anarchists that we have solutions for many of these issues. We see abuses all around and what do people hear from us? End government! For the most part they then hear a bunch of economists doing the cost benefit analysis of a certain situation. We claim to be liberal often in certain social areas and then we fall to economics. We often discuss markets and give little to few answers for many issues that people struggle with. Often when we have solutions and give one word answers as if fixing these problems are that simple.
It’s time we broke out of our rut. It is time we began to do more than just scream about how the state is violence. We must begin to address the issues that concern people. We need to offer up our solutions. We need to expand on stateless solutions and begin to put as many of them into practice as possible. The beauty of it is that we are not a state bound by laws. We are free to do as we wish. A state may not always like it, but that is reality. If we begin to address these issues we will begin to win more over. How do we grow our movement? By actively doing what we claim we can do.
We need more than economists. We need people who are facing the social issues that others care about from an anti-state perspective. The beauty of this is that this is also a part of our coming revolution. The revolution is here and it is coming at the same time. We have made our first steps and we will only expand it by action in these areas that matter to people.
If the state ceased to exist tomorrow we may be in a bad place. Many service providers will not exist. We need to build up alternatives. If social security, Medicare, HUD or many other welfare providers disappeared we would have many people hurting. We need to provide alternatives that are more sufficient than the state. By building up what we can provide for others we will be working towards the phasing out of the state.
We are part of a movement that is working towards a new era in human history. We hold the key to the future of human social evolution in a stateless society. We must not be complacent by vegging out in front of a television complaining about news and the narrative the mass media is feeding us. We must be active in creating the alternatives. Look to what area you are going to make the difference or bring about the future and become active. If we infuse ourselves in our neighborhoods and cities showing that we are bringing about a new way we will reach many others.
We must also open the dialogue on many social issues that we all too often have kept our mouths shut about. This will start with our listening to others concerns and needs. Maybe that doesn’t mean always cramming our philosophy down another’s throat, but it may mean that we learn from others who do have an opposing view. This will be helpful to see where we need to build up our movement especially.
So, go out and do. Open your ears and listen, and let’s open up dialogue on the issues that impact others we may be overlooking.
I stumbled across a post from Latin in America:
At best, they may think that it stems from Central and South American’s overstaying their welcome in the country en route to the United States. But the majority of illegal immigrants in Mexico are actually from the United States.
According to Mexico’s federal bureau of immigration, many undocumented Americans enter Mexico every year and, unsure of how long they are going to stay, end up with incorrect or expired paperwork. As the Global Post reports, many of the Americans in Mexico are elderly citizens who go south to retire.
In direct contrast to the laws, like SB 1070, in the United States-the Mexican government does not deport people who are in the country illegally. According to Mexican immigration agent Beatrice Amparo Perez Alatorre, there is a process for “regularizing” these immigrants and not sent to jail unless they have committed a crime. After five years, undocumented immigrants who have been living in Mexico can apply to become a legal citizen.
Prof. Jorge Durand of the University of Guadalajara confirms, “To be undocumented in Mexico is not a criminal offense.”
I tend to take a complete open borders side with no restrictions, registrations, paperwork or anything to hinder a migrant. But, I would be extremely supportive and pleased if the U.S. were to stop wasting money on locking migrants in cages for simply being on their turf, and approach the issue in a sensible way such as this.
I hear all sides of the political spectrum argue for their ‘rights’. From their bill of rights to the freedom brought by a gun, liberty, freedom and rights are constantly thrown around and mean something completely different to almost everyone who utters the words. I reject the concept of liberty, freedom and rights. None will ever truly be obtained. They are abstract concepts created to describe and defend ones political stance. Rights are used as statist apolagetics to obtain what one desires. If I write on my bill of rights that I have a ‘Right’ to sex does that truly justify me taking that sex from an individual? This can only be given freely or it is nothing more than rape.
Rape is defined by Merriam Webster as ‘to seize or take away by force’. By this definition the majority of government action is nothing more than rape. All attempts for one to obtain these liberties, freedom or rights through taxation or initiation of force which is the state is nothing short of rape.
The only civil way for society to be structured is by acknowledgment of the non-aggression axiom. As the structure of states and the force a state uses against the individual evolves we see a forward progression. Some is positive, some is stagnant. I will not claim every effort of the state has been in vain or for evil. There are people who truly work for a positive through a state. We see this in more recent government actions like the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. An injustice in society was acknowledged in society and actions were taken to amend this. The problem is not the Lilly Ledbetter Act and what the state attempted to do within this act, but the problem lies within the existence of the state.
If the state is a corrupt institution whose driving power is rape and initiation of force any action the state takes will be either tainted by this unethical nature or null and void when we have eliminated the state.
You can point out the ‘good politicians’ all day long. You can even point out the so-called ‘good cops’. In reality there is no good cop and there is no good politician. This is not a claim that all are evil and driven to harm. This is the claim that by the nature of the system those positions are naturally violating to others and thus essentially criminal for by their very nature they break the non-aggression axiom. By simply taking the positions to invade and rape others no matter how nice of an individual they may be or how well meaning ones intent is, they have still taken a position that is to invade and rape.
Look at the Nazi executioner. He was just following orders with good intent. No matter how nice the guy was or how well intended he was he was still the freaking Nazi executioner. The job of police is to chain and cage human beings for not doing what the politician said they should do. You didn’t pay the car insurance company or the state? Well if you didn’t pay us you should be chained and caged. If you defend yourself you loose your rights and we shoot you. This is the nature of the state.
Liberty, Freedom and Rights mean little. Since every time they are spoken these words have a completely different definition to almost everyone. We are better served by defining how society can function in a civil manner. The basis of this being the non-aggression axiom we must find new ways to approach the so-called rights we perceive.
Since I started this site a few years ago my following has grown. I get more regular readers than I could have ever expected. Many correspond with me and even challenge what I write. I started this site when I was still a minarchist libertarian. I held to many concepts of ‘local government’ which I have since rejected. I have actively been seeking alternatives to the state and reading and learning of the illegitimacy of the state. Much of which I have written here. If you have been following me over this time you have seen much of this evolution and have been privy to my journey and change in philosophy. I do not believe I will ever be done with this process of learning and evolving.
My main goal was really to challenge everything I believe and think. Sadly I think this has made me more obstinate in some conclusions I have reached.
The basic concepts of rights in the more traditional constitutional manner would be life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Life is simple enough. We have a right to live. That’s simple, and I think few will disagree with that. When you reach liberty and the pursuit of happiness we see a vague definition of rights. What is liberty? Liberty from what? You can have liberty from work then you may see that you loose your happiness when you can’t pay bills or keep your home. You can be liberated from more confining thought processes.
To acknowledge moral rights you must have a similar moral standard as others. Most do not cling to the same set of morality. Humanist or feminist world views may differ from an Islamic or Christian world view leading to a completely different set of ethics and moral standards. Specific injustices or ills in society must not be thrown out because of what I am saying. I will say that they need to be approached for what they are and not to be claimed as a ‘right’. Under Shariah you see six basic rights:
1. The right to the protection of life.
2. The right to the protection of family.
3. The right to the protection of education.
4. The right to the protection of religion.
5. The right to the protection of property (access to resources).
6. The right to the protection of human dignity.
Who can really go against this concept of rights defined by Shariah? None of those concepts seem like anything I would oppose working for or fighting for. The goals are wonderful. BUT. The only same concept I see here with our constitutional rights is ‘life’. I don’t see Shariah extolling liberty or the pursuit of happiness. One could argue that those elements of Shariah are both liberty or the pursuit of happiness, but at the same time they could also argue they are not at all. Some would cling to freedom of speech or freedom of owning a gun much more closely than any of the above. Some would even reject the right to religion as we see in the conservative anti-Muslim movement in the United States today. Some would say that our rights are relative to conditions of birth. In the early 1800′s if you were born the wrong color you had no ‘rights’ as a slave. Now if you are born in Mexico many argue that you are not entitled to the same ‘rights’ as others.
Immanuel Kant spoke of negative and positive rights. He spoke of our duty not to impose on others. We see a similar concept in the libertarian non-aggression axiom. If any right exists I would argue it is this right. I may not agree that it is even a right. This idea is simply the absent of a right. No one holds the right to aggress on another. No one holds the right to rape another. No one holds the right to kill another. No one holds the right to steal from another. No one holds the right to assault another. I will hold this concept of negative rights above the concept of ‘natural rights’ or any other rights one claims they have. If rights are viewed as negative rights we see there are more we can come to agree upon.
Do you have the liberty to kill and put people in cages? Many would automatically say no, but their actions would say otherwise. Some would claim this is admissible if you own a badge and a gun.
I am not sure that I am at this time willing to agree that anyone has any rights, but we can see a plethora of negative rights that society can be structured upon. The interesting thing is that if we truly implemented the lack of these rights we would see the elimination of the state for they are rights people employed by the state claim for themselves. Every positive right does entail a negative right. The positive right may be the right to sex, but that would lead to the negative which is the right to be invaded upon. Perhaps we should start to look more critically at the negative right.
Could the right to property for one be a negative right to labor for another? Let us take a potter for example. He takes the clay from the ground. Now by his labor the clay is his property. Let us say that the potter gives the clay to another potter who turns it into a bowl. Now that both have put labor into the bowl who has the right to the profit or ownership? Can the potter that removed the clay still claim ownership after another had put labor into the clay?
When rights conflict does either party really have any rights?
I am finding it harder to justify any right as an absolute, but I can see absolutes in negative rights. We do not have certain rights. So where does this lead us?
So what is liberty? Is liberty having the rights to do as we wish? Liberty, Freedom and Rights are all difficult to define because of the vast difference in perception. Each could have a thousand definitions some could even conflict. This makes it near impossible to make any stance of substance on something like liberty, freedom or rights.
Libertarians have naturally leaned towards the liberty and freedom with a strong stance on natural rights or property rights. I am not utterly rejecting the concepts, but I am challenging them. I am saying that they are not enough. I am even rejecting much of it as a basis of my beliefs, instead I should see them as a result of what I believe.
So, to take the negative rights stance I will say that no one has the right to force others to do as they will. I will not say that Pastor Terry Jones the Qumran burning hillbilly preacher had the right to burn bibles. I will not say he did not have the right either. That all depends on what perspective of rights you take. I will look at the negative and say that no one has the right to use force or aggression to stop one from burning books. Just as no one has the right to stop Islamic protests from burning bibles or flags. Do I condone burning books? No. It seems a bit dangerous and Nazi like for me. But it really comes down to if we should be elevating the issue with violence. Should we send men with guns in to stop them? It seems that an outcry of objections can stop one from doing such a thing.
Instead of fighting the battle of what rights one has maybe we should focus on the rights one does not have. We do not have the right to attack, chain, cage or steal from others. No one holds those rights. By ending those actions no one has a right to you find anarchy. You find the need to structure society in new civil manners.
If you have an interest in a stateless society, you need to understand what the state is. Otherwise you could end up chasing shadows, and many self-proclaimed anarchists often do so, unfortunately. When you look around you, you can see examples of its handiwork everywhere. Every police car you see, the various “permits” and “licenses” when you go into a business establishment (once you start to look for them, you’ll see them all the time without even trying to…), and then the more subtle things. Now, you’ll notice I didn’t mention roads, or schools or traffic lights. These are all things that would exist with or without the state. The particular form they tend to take in our world however, this is the work of the state, as are the particular forms that all of our institutions and business establishments do. (remember the “permits” above?)
But all of that is the trail the state leaves behind. So what is the state? Many people think that it is an organization sometimes called “the government”. That’s one piece of the puzzle, but it’s not the complete answer. The governments of the world act as a sort of administrative organization and enforcement agency for the state, they are necessary for its continued existence. But there’s more to it than that. In totalitarian countries, “government” and “state” seem very much to be the same, because the government controls everything so directly. In more liberal/libertarian countries, the differences start to emerge. One perspective I’ve found that sheds a lot of light on the state is to examine the Mafia. Is a “legitimate business” owned by the Mafia, really not part of the Mafia? Even if it’s not a money laundering front and is operated for a profit, it’s still basically part of the Mafia.
Now the government and the Mafia while they have similarities, have some glaring differences too. One big one that doesn’t get looked at is that government officials never directly get actual profits from their activities. In fact, most of their most prominent activities are non-profit, or run constant losses even if they do take payment. They get a salary, which is paid out of stolen money, but that salary is relatively fixed and not dependent on performance (for which I am sure they are quite grateful). So you have to broaden your gaze and see that these officials rotate into and out of “private sector” employment, and then it starts to make more sense. The businesses favored by the state are the ones that hire ex-government employees and vice versa. The fact that government officials are allowed to own stock (though that’s regulated to some extent) in private companies is another clue.
So why the pretense? Why go through this ruse of “public” and “private”? Well that’s it. That’s the state. The state IS the ruse. The state… is a social fiction. It is the myth of legitimacy. This myth is the thin black line that separates “the government” and its “private sector” attachments from any other Mafia. The fact that people believe that “the government” is legitimately allowed to kill and steal, and that when it does so, it represents something good and just, is what has allowed it to dominate the earth. And despite the secondary myth that the government exists to fight crime, it is the very existence of the government that allows the lesser Mafias to thrive.
In the past this myth of legitimacy was carried out through religion. As various religions were the “private sector” beneficiaries of government, they would preach that the state was the secular arm of their organization, devoted to enforcing “the lord’s will” on Earth.
While bunk in and of itself, at least they admitted the connection.
Nowadays, a new religion, that of “democracy”, legitimizes the state by claiming that it is “the people’s will” that they are charged with enforcing. (Even when the people seem to be quite against what the government is doing, ala the recent bank bailouts) Other flatulent high sounding ideas like “social order” , “tradition” and “public goods” are also used to weave this magic spell in people’s heads.
So now that we know what the state is, we know what Anarchism is. Anarchism, truly, is simply the understanding that the state is merely a social fiction and has no legitimacy. When you live that truth, you will not follow the law simply because it is the law. You will let your conscience be your guide. At that point you are no longer being ruled, though you might have crimes committed against you by the “government” and its lackeys. When the Mafia forces someone to pay protection money, that guy isn’t being ruled, he’s being robbed.
So what then is liberty? Liberty is the absence of crime. Real crime, crime that has a victim. Crimes that all persons’ conscience would acknowledge as such. A libertarian then, is someone who wishes to abolish (or more realistically) minimize crime.
Not all anarchists are libertarians (some Stirnerites come to mind), but most are, at least to some extent. But all anarchists understand that no one has any special authority to commit crimes that no one else has.
All political theories involve some level of crime. Someone is getting victimized for someone else’s benefit. The “liberals” (as we know them today) tend to favor a very mild, safe plutocratic regime — one that seeks to round off all of lifes sharp corners for the sake of making us all viable economic resources to exploit. The “conservatives” have a more dog-eat-dog approach in which the workers are set up to fight over ever more scarce resources; a Darwinian approach to maximizing our productivity. Ultimately, these are just differing livestock management techniques.
Ahhh but you say, this is an age of ascendant corporatism and collectivism. What about the political theories of the past? Classical liberalism was a sort of minarchist libertarianism. We must have this much organized crime (committed by the ruling classes), simply in order to fight sporadic, disorganized crime (usually committed by the lower classes). The problem is that leaves all sorts of “wiggle room” which leads to the liberalism we have now.
Classical conservatism / Paleo-conservatism is a sort of patchwork of ideas that claims that “this social order is good”, and whatever crimes we have to commit to keep that order are thus justified. It’s almost hearkening back to the ancient regime of religious statism, and indeed does attract a lot of religious types.
Both of these ideologies are a lot less totalitarian than modern corporate democracy, but that’s simply to be expected. They realized at some point that totalitarian control is counter productive… the host that does not thrive leaves little for the parasite. And so they developed political strategies that would allow the host to thrive, while still providing a decent feast for the parasite.
Nowadays we are seeing an attempt to use spurious financial-economics to min/max the amount of crime vs. the health and wealth of the population that crime feeds off. The predators have charts and graphs you see, and they are giving lectures on “how to get the most from your prey”. They also don’t think as long term as they used to, because they have thrown off sentimentality toward their children. (and could you blame them for that?)
Anarchism has, itself, broken up into many sub-divisions and factions. But in reality, all these factions are, are differing beliefs about what a stateless society will “look like”. All anarchists, that is to say, all people who understand that no one is authorized to commit crimes, have one goal if they wish to see their desired future(s) come to pass, which is to destroy the myth of legitimacy. This is the one way that one can smash the state. Now there are several strategies and methods that might be used to do so, but everything that does not attack the myth of legitimacy directly or indirectly is extra-anarchist. It is perhaps a strengthening of a social order that was hollowed out by the state, or a diversion of resources feeding the state, but no matter. Where we disagree as anarchists is less important than where we agree.
A lot of “left” anarchists will claim, for instance, that anarcho-capitalists are not actually anarchists. This, to me, seems like confusion about what capitalism means to anarcho-capitalists. By the light of what leftist anarchists mean by “capitalism”, anarcho-capitalists are not non-anarchists, they are non-capitalists. And the reverse holds true too. An anarcho-socialist is not the sort of socialist that an anarcho-capitalist thinks of as “socialist”. But all anarchists believe that the state is nonsense and has no right to assert some sort of magical authority to do things that you or I cannot.
There are pseudo-anarchists, yes, but they are the sort that end up cheering for this magical super-Mafia when their own pet issues come to town.
Having listened to the actual concepts (not just imaginations of their ideas) of anarchists of all stripes, I have come to the conclusion, as did Voltarine DeCleyre, one of my heroes, that I am an anarchist without adjectives. Let us dispense with the fiction of the state, and then let everyone try what they can, and we will see how it all works out.
via Without Adjectives.
Are you authorized to exist within the confines of the state? Have you been cataloged and placed in big brothers database? The right has gone on a rampage against migrants. The hypocritical belief seems to be that liberty and freedom should be afforded to those that are born into it seems to contradict many of their stances on the constitution. They will claim that the constitution should be followed except in cases of birthright citizenship.
Citizenship is now defined by what state authorized paperwork one holds. You must have a birth certificate to be entered into the system with the road monopolies of the state. The roads are used to regulate individuals. Your vehicle must have identification so the state can tell if you have not paid the appropriate state offices. The individual is licensed as a way to keep information and tabs on each individual. It is the campaign of the left and right to only allow individuals in the country that can be cataloged. You are simply cattle to the state.
The right continues to ridicule the president as they extol wars and migrant control. While the President seems to be the greatest defender of their violence and aggression and government inventory of human beings.
The “enforcement now, enforcement forever” policy of the Obama administration continues. The administration asked Congress on Tuesday for $600 million in emergency funds to hire another 1,000 Border Patrol agents, acquire two drones and enhance security along the Southwest border. This is the kind of conduct that provoked one commentator to observe that President Obama is the most anti-immigrant President since President Eisenhower, whose administration oversaw Operation “Wetback” in 1954. So far, President Obama has been even tougher on immigration than President Clinton, who brought the nation Operation Gatekeeper and similar border enforcement operations, signed into law the draconian 1996 immigration reforms and welfare reform, increased immigrant detention, and similar tough-on-immigrant measures.
Many Democrats have taken a slight pro-migrant stance in the case of improving their human inventory through the promotion of a national biometric ID. Even if we do not go the route of this biometric ID that has been rumored the same concept of human inventory exists with birth certificates, social security numbers and state drivers licenses’ and IDs’.
Many say it is the problem that the migrant can not get the right ‘papers.’ The problem is that we are forced to have papers in the first place. It is time we became critical of the accepted social norm of submitting to being human cattle and inventoried by the state.
Even the first lady is speaking to the children about making sure everyone has the right kind of ‘papers.’ Its’ not just the migrant that has to hold the right ‘papers’ but every individual under the regime. I am asking for migrant freedom not migrant catalogs just as I ask for human freedom as opposed to begging the bureaucracy to vilify my existence in their database.
Border control, ICE, State Police and many more work together to monitor and regulate the free movement of human beings. They demand payment to the state to be inventoried and monitored and if you do not pay the state to migrate or just to be able to drive to and from work they will inventory you in a prison system. One way or another they will have your movements under control. If you do not wish to pay the coercive state monopolies to maintain you like cattle or sheep you will be placed in cages or escorted out of the country.
British officer: You call yourself a patriot, and a loyal subject to King
George?Hawkeye: I don’t call myself “subject” to much of
anything.Hawkeye explains the foundational tenet of the American worldview to a self-important armed government functionary offended by the frontiersman’s principled defiance; from the 1992 version of Last of the Mohicans.
Marilyn Levias, a 19-year-old Seattle girl involved in a jaywalking incident during which a police officer assaulted another 17-year-old girl, displayed “a dangerous refusal to observe a cardinal rule that civilians simply must comply with instructions from police officers,” insists Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes.
For this, Miss Levias faces a gross misdemeanor charge of “Obstructing a Police Officer.” During the confrontation, Levias’s 17-year-old friend, Angel L. Rosenthal, intervened on her behalf and was punched in the face by officer Ian P. Walsh. As is typically the case when a Mundane’s face obstructs the trajectory of a police officer’s fist, the victim is the one facing criminal charges.
In announcing the criminal charge against Levias, City Attorney Holmes offered the mildest possible limp-wristed swipe at the Seattle Police Department by saying that the incident illustrates the need “for de-escalation training for officers.” Holmes also cited an observation by Judge Michael Spearman, auditor for the police department’s Office of Professional Responsibility, that “The use of force in a [jaywalking] situation as a best practice is questionable.
“Even this timid and tentative criticism was an unbearable affront to the delicate sensibilities of Rich O’Neill, president of Seattle’s Armed Tax-Feeders Guild.
“Force was not used in a jay-walking incident! Force was used because the individuals involved assaulted a uniformed police officer,” protested O’Neill.
The “assault” in question occurred when the teenage girls tried to free themselves from Walsh’s clutches after he had needlessly laid hands on them. They were uncooperative, not threatening.
Yet to O’Neill, who is apparently so Emo that his last name should be Philips, jaywalking occupies the same continuum as violent crime.
Accordingly, the use of overwhelming force is entirely appropriate: “Officers are trained to enforce the law and not to ‘de-escalate’ walk away simply because a violator objects to being stopped. That would simply lead to lawlessness.
“Indeed: If we don’t permit police officers to slug jaywalking teenage girls in the face, the terrorists will win.
There are evil axioms embedded in the statements of both Holmes and O’Neill. First of all, both assume that there is a dichotomy between police and “civilians” – which of necessity means that the former should be regarded as military, or at least para-military, in nature. Holmes reinforced that assumption by referring to the Mayor of Seattle as “commander in chief” of the city’s police.
As I’ve noted elsewhere, the idea that “civilians” are to render instant, unqualified obedience to any armed individual in a government-issued costume is the chief characteristic of the martial law mind-set.
Read the Full Article by William Norman Grigg: The Police State’s ‘Cardinal Rule’: The Mundane Must Submit by William Norman Grigg.
“It serves to distract the Public Councils, and enfeeble the Public Administration….agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one….against another….it opens the door to foreign influence and corruption…thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.”